MEET OUR Undergraduate Research Ambassadors!

Current Ambassadors

emmelia ashton: metallurgical & materials engineering; biology
URA Cohort: 2022-2023, 2023-2024

Emmelia Ashton is a senior studying Metallurgical and Materials Engineering and has been involved in research since her first year. She works as a member of Dr. Terry Lowe’s Transdisciplinary Nanostructured Materials Research Team. During this time, she was part of the FIRST and SURF programs, and works to research medical device metals, sustainable magnets, and investigates material properties for industry sponsors. In the future, she plans to attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D. in the field so she can further pursue research related to nanoscale biomaterials.

Have a question? Send Emmelia a message here.

Jesutomisin "Praise" Olusoji: Quantitative Biosciences and Engineering
URA Cohort: 2022-2023, 2023-2024

Praise Olusoji is a senior majoring in Quantitative Biosciences and Engineering. She has been involved in research since her sophomore year, starting in Dr. Melissa Krebs’s research group to develop alginate/chitosan hydrogels that can control the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells in growth plate injuries. She also worked at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus under Dr. Kristin Artinger where she studied the genetic interaction between prdm3 and bcl9 in Zebrafish craniofacial development. In the future, she plans to attend graduate school to get her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology so she can pursue translational research.

Have a question? Send Praise a message here.

Claire nelson: Chemistry
URA Cohort: 2023-2024

Claire Nelson is a senior in Chemistry. With her diverse background in materials engineering and chemistry, Claire has found a home in polymer chemistry research. She is currently researching with Dr. Ramya Kumar in the Chemical & Biological Engineering department focusing on synthesizing novel polymer architectures to be used as delivery vehicles for therapeutic nucleic acids for genetic engineering. More specifically, her current project is investigating the use of surface-initiated cationic brush polymers for increasing drug loading and transfection efficacy. She hopes to further study either polymer chemistry or polymer physics by pursuing a PhD in chemistry or materials science. When not in the lab, you can find her experimenting with new dessert recipes, rock climbing, skiing, playing video games, or playing French horn and piano.

Have a question? Send Claire a message here.




Past Ambassadors

Max Garza: Environmental engineering

URA Cohort: 2023-2024

Max Garza is a senior in Environmental Engineering who has participated in several different research programs – including a summer REU at the University of Illinois, the Mines Undergraduate Research Fellowship (MURF), and an international research trip to Zambia. He is currently working on two projects at the Colorado School of Mines relating to heavy metal contamination that have applications to improving human and environmental health in developing countries. In the future, he would like to pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Engineering.

Have a question? Send Max a message here.




maddy hoffman: engineering physics; economics
URA Cohort: 2022-2023

Maddy Hoffmann is a sophomore majoring in Engineering Physics and has been involved in research since her first semester her freshman year at Mines. She works as a part of Dr. Jeffrey King’s Space Applications team, where she is developing software to computationally test the theoretical shielding effectiveness of various user-defined nuclear shielding materials. She won second place at the 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium for the poster presentation of her research, and is continuing with this research team and project into her sophomore and junior year. She was originally part of the FIRST cohort and receive a lot of support from undergraduate research mentors.  Now, she wants to help give back that help to others who may need it.

Have a question? Send Maddy a message here.

Amiya Prasad: Computer Science; Computer Engineering
URA Cohort: 2022-2023
Walter Behaylo: electrical engineering; computer science
URA Cohort: 2022-2023


Avery Tyndall: Chemical Engineering; Biomedical Engineering
URA Cohort: 2021-2022

Avery Tyndall was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She moved to Golden, Colorado in 2018 to pursue a BS in Chemical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines with a focus in bioengineering and a minor biomedical engineering. Avery was introduced to her first research experience through the FIRST Fellowship at Mines on a biophysics project. Avery also completed an REU program at the University of Texas at Austin in the Chemical Engineering department as lead on a genetic engineering project. She completed another research project through MURF at Mines focusing on ester synthesis in a biochemistry lab. After completing her undergraduate degree, Avery plans on attending graduate school for a bioengineering or biomedical engineering program. In her free time, Avery enjoys hiking, playing rugby, cooking, and binge watching docuseries.

Cash Koning: Geophysics
URA Cohort: 2021-2022

Cash is a Colorado native and a senior in Geophysics who plans to pursue an extra year at Mines for a M.S. in Data Science. He has been active in undergraduate research since his junior year and works in the Mines Glaciology Lab. His past projects include using machine learning and satellite imagery to track and detect crevasses on the Greenland ice sheet. He spent the summer of 2021 researching glaciers and climate science as a student with the Juneau Icefield Research Program. Cash is hoping to combine machine learning with glacier and climate research in the future in hopes of tracking how glaciers are melting and changing.

Courtney Smoljan: Chemical Engineering
URA Cohort: 2019-2020, 2020-2021

Courtney graduated in 2021 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and had been involved in undergraduate research since her sophomore year. She worked in Dr. Moises Carreon’s group to develop cost-efficient catalysts for the conversion of lipid biomass to liquid biodiesel. She has also worked at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory where she contributed to studies investigating the durability of nuclear waste glasses, in order to assess their environmental impact. Courtney plans on pursuing her PhD in Chemical Engineering upon her graduation.


Griffin Hampton: Biochemistry; Computational & Applied Mathematics
URA Cohort: 2021-2022

Griffin Hampton is a senior majoring in Biochemistry and Computational and Applied Mathematics with a minor in Public Affairs from the McBride Honors Program. As a member of Dr. Cecilia Diniz Behn’s group, Griffin has researched the mathematics of metabolism since his first year at Mines. He implements nonlinear systems of ordinary differential equations to capture the dynamics of metabolic processes of glucose, insulin, and glycerol. This translational research has focused on solving inverse problems with tools from applied mathematics to characterize the nature of metabolic systems. Griffin also does transgenic research in Dr. Matthew Posewitz’s lab. In Dr. Posewitz’s lab, Griffin is working to express the isoprene synthase protein from Pueraria montana, kudzu, in the highly productive marine algae Picochlorum celeri so that it will synthesize isoprene. Ultimately, Griffin wants to pursue an M.D. Ph.D. to apply his biochemistry and mathematics backgrounds to answer biomedical questions about metabolism and metabolic diseases.

Jens Carter: Chemical Engineering
URA Cohort: 2019-2020, 2020-2021

Jens Carter is a transfer student from Wisconsin. As a senior pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering, he currently conducts research into biomimetic materials for energy applications in the Chemistry Department under Professor Christine Morrison. In the past, Jens has done multiple interdisciplinary projects, including working in the High Energy Physics Division at Argonne National Labs on the Argonne Wakefield Particle Accelerator, working as an undergraduate research assistant on his last campus making low-cost cosmic radiation detectors, and competing in intercollegiate rocketry competitions. Jens hopes to continue his career working on a multitude of interdisciplinary research and development projects.

Josh Stackhouse: Physics
URA Cohort: 2019-2020

Josh Stackhouse is a Colorado native, originally from Fort Collins. In 2020, he graduated with a BS in Physics at the Colorado School of Mines. He worked with the Nuclear Physics research group on high-accuracy X-ray measurements using superconducting detectors. In his previous research, he has worked on materials analysis using machine-learning, development and fabrication of nanowire arrays, and computer simulations on nuclear materials. Looking forward to the future, Josh is interested in conducting research in the field of plasma physics, with the goal of economically viable energy production from nuclear fusion.

Portia Allen: Engineering Physics; Data Science; Computational & Applied Mathematics
URA Cohort: 2021-2022

Portia is a junior in Engineering Physics, with a double minor in Data Science and Computational/Applied Math. This will be her fourth year working in Dr. Singh’s research group and managing the shared physics lab in Coorstek. She has worked on various projects in the past, including optimization of aluminum/aluminum oxide tunneling junctions, structural and electrical characterization of carbon-platinum composites, and electrical transport measurements of silicon-based clathrate films. Her current project is taking cryogenic thermal conductivity measurements of suspended silicon nitride platforms, for future work with quantum thermal effects.

Sadie Jonson: Geological Engineering
URA Cohort: 2021-2022

Sadie Jonson is a third-year student at Mines studying Geological Engineering with an interest in water and hydrology, specifically groundwater. She started research during her freshman year at Mines through the FIRST fellowship. During her time in FIRST, she was paired with mentor Rudy Maltos in the Mines’ Park Wastewater Lab, where she continued to function as an undergraduate researcher from Fall of 2019 through Spring 2021. Currently, she is working closely with PhD candidate, Sara Warix, looking at groundwater and surface water chemistry of Hotel Gulch Stream in Manitou Experimental Forest. In the future she hopes to continue to pursue research in the realm of hydrology looking at water resource sustainability and the impacts of climate change.

Sarena Nguyen: Chemical Engineering
URA Cohort: 2019-2020, 2020-2021

Sarena is a senior studying chemical engineering with an interest in energy, particularly alternative energy. This is Sarena’s fourth year doing undergraduate research at Mines, and she has previously worked on three projects concerning microbial wastewater treatment. At the present moment, she is conducting research on the effect of conductive binders on Lithium-Air Batteries and trying to get repeatable discharge curves from each cell. She would like to increase the awareness of our awesome undergraduate research opportunities on campus, so more students can get involved.

Siew Chiang: Petroleum Engineering
URA Cohort: 2020-2021

Siew was student from Brazil who graduated in 2021 studying petroleum engineering and economics with an interest in public policy of energy. This was her second year doing undergraduate research at Mines, and she has previously worked on a project involving the analysis of unconventional and conventional rocks and investigation of the reservoir rock properties measurement methods. She has worked on two projects: 1) data analytics and mathematical programming for applications in economics and business and 2) public policy concern on the future of oil and gas involving carbon capture and storage in Latin America. Siew has plans to help the oil industry to incorporate the renewable energy sector into the petroleum sector, and slowly transition our reliability on oil and gas to renewable productions with her petroleum engineering expertise and energy public policy knowledge, while being economically profitable with her economics and business understanding.

Tony Tien: Chemical Engineering
URA Cohort: 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022

Tony is a senior in Chemical Engineering performing research in the department with Dr. Kevin Cash. His work in the Cash Lab has involved the development of analyte nanosensors to be applied to biological systems in vivo, including nanosensors for the detection of sodium, sulfate, and oxygen. He has also worked on a layer-by-layer biofilm project incorporating Pseudomonas aeruginosa with various polymers for improved diagnosis of biofilms in clinical settings. His current work involves researching methods of characterizing oxygen-sensitive nanosensors developed by the Prud’homme group at Princeton University for the determination of optimal formulations for desired use cases. After graduation, he intends to work in fields related to biotechnology and biomedical devices with a desire to work towards a Ph.D. in the future.

Zoe Baker: Computer Science
URA Cohort: 2021-2022

Zoe is a senior pursuing a double degree in Computer Science and Applied Math/Statistics. This will be Zoe’s fourth year participating in undergraduate research at Mines. Her research has been with the Machine Learning, Informatics, and Data Science lab (MINDS@Mines), headed by Dr. Wang. Within the lab, her work has primarily focused on applying machine learning techniques to understand and analyze disease and human health. In the future, Zoe hopes to pursue a PhD in Computer Science.